By Richard J. Durrell/Publisher
November 29, 1976 12:00 PM

This issue of PEOPLE contains 109 pictures—go ahead, count ’em if you don’t believe us—a number that is characteristic of the blend of words and photographs we try to bring you every week.

We call your particular attention to the story that starts on page 66. It is about Alfred Eisenstaedt and his new book, which is based on his half-century of photographing the movers and shakers of the world.

Since this magazine began 33 months ago, Eisenstaedt’s name has been on our masthead and his pictures in our pages. By the story on Eisie, we also want to draw attention to all the photographers on whose considerable talents we rely week after week. As their names will confirm, PEOPLE represents the work of the top professionals in the field.

Because of them, we have already won several photographic awards. Three of the winners are pictured above, and each has a story to tell about his prize photograph.

Dick Swanson in our Washington bureau was assigned to photograph President Ford swimming in the newly installed White House pool. Because Swanson never knew precisely when permission would be granted, he wore his bathing trunks to work under his suit for nearly two weeks.

When approval suddenly came, Swanson hastened to poolside. Apparently the Secret Service had not been told. When they saw this man fling himself into the water beside the President, they went for their weapons. Fortunately, White House photographer David Kennerly assured them that Swanson’s freestyle might look menacing but that he was on a bona fide assignment. After the picture had won a Newspaper Guild Page One Award, Ford asked Swanson for an autographed print.

Co Rentmeester is one of the foremost sports photographers in the world. His picture of Jimmy Connors giving a hostile crowd the gesture later made famous by Vice-President Rockefeller also took a Page One Award. Connors used to be the bad boy of professional tennis, but is a comparative angel now. Co’s picture captured one of Jimmy’s last tantrums and perhaps helped convince Connors to clean up his act.

Harry Benson needed patience and a cast-iron stomach to win a Picture of the Year contest sponsored by the National Press Photographers’ Association, the University of Missouri School of Journalism and Nikon. The picture showed former Attorney General John Mitchell and his attorneys wetly celebrating his acquittal on Watergate-related charges in New York in 1974.

Benson followed the men from the courtroom back to their hotel suite, outwaited all other photographers and finally was invited in for a drink or two. An hour later he got his classic picture of revelry and relief.

It may be true that only wives and mothers read magazine mastheads, but the roll of staff members who make our picture department function can be found on page 21. All the other names in that column have helped, too, in making PEOPLE the fastest-growing weekly magazine in the country.

This has been a particularly gratifying year. Our circulation base reached 1,800,000 in July, with an estimated total adult readership, 18 and over, of 11,582,000. A growing number of teenagers also make PEOPLE a weekly reading habit.

This was the year we went on television. Dinah Shore was the hostess of PEOPLE’S second birthday party on her award-winning Dinah! show. Then in August Time-Life Films, in conjunction with NBC-TV, presented a new kind of 90-minute PEOPLE television special.

In some ways the best is yet to come—the annual year-end double issue of PEOPLE which will include our list of the 25 most intriguing personalities of 1976. (You’re not supposed to agree with all our choices.)

No mention of our remarkable year would be complete without acknowledging our readers, who loyally buy PEOPLE at supermarkets, drug and convenience stores, newsstands and terminals. We are grateful also to the many advertisers who have given us such a vote of confidence.

As the country moves into a new year with a new administration, remember the old stadium pitch: You can’t tell the players without a program. Think of PEOPLE as your weekly program to the fascinating personalities of the world in 1977.